It was the last day of the Parliament session – 25th March 2011. A motley bunch of concerned citizens – under the banner ‘Anti-Nuclear Struggle Solidarity Forum’ - marched determinedly under the blistering afternoon sun from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar in Delhi. They wanted to get the attention of our elected representatives immersed in the din of politics. The message was simple and direct; ‘No more Chernobyls, no more Fukushimas. Nuclear reactors are dangerous and the government has no business putting citizens at peril with its obsession with nuclear power to fuel economic growth’.
Even though the decision to march to the Parliament was taken just three days before the actual day, a lot of people turned up for the march. People came to show their support for the victims in Japan and the protesting locals of Jaitapur in Maharashtra and Fatehabad in Haryana, India.
College students, environmentalists, NGOs big and small, believers of all faiths, concerned professionals taking half-a-day from work and citizen’s group representatives– all of them were marching for a common cause. The demand was simple, a safe future for all of us. It was an attempt to remind our leaders that, be it the horrors of Chernobyl 25 years ago and continuing, or the daily-growing horrors of Fukushima; nuclear energy has disastrous impacts.
Nuclear energy is expensive and dangerous. It is not the answer to reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. Renewable and sustainable energy production and efficient use of what we already have is the way forward. The government needs to halt its indecent haste to commission more and more nuclear reactors even in seismically unstable regions.
They say that ‘those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it’. But in this case, those who choose to ignore history would be condemning millions of people to a future of fear and disease. We don’t have control over natural phenomenon. The incident in Japan is yet another reminder of how vulnerable we are to dangerous nuclear energy. We have an opportunity to stop this. 73,000 people signed an online petition opposing the Jaitapur nuclear reactor – their demand was handed over to the Prime Minister’s office.
Countries all over the world are reviewing and halting their nuclear power plants. India needs to do the same and switch to safe and clean renewable energy before it’s too late. This march was just the beginning of protests against nuclear power. There is a candlelight vigil on April 11th, the national action day against nuclear. I will be there to mark the one month anniversary of the tragedy in Japan and support those fighting against the nuclear power plant in Jaitapur. Hope to see you too.
Image 1 and 2: Protesters in Delhi demonstrate against the Jaitapur nuclear plant site. © Greenpeace